BACnet International, KNX Association, OCF, Thread Group and the Zigbee Alliance last week announced they are working together to better align commercial buildings with users' connectivity needs and to improve the integration of smart building products.
It is great news for end users as these are the organisations behind the leading technology standards in the field of building automation. They are collaborating on this new initiative: "IP Building and Lighting Standards" (IP-BLiS).
Together they are promoting a secure multi-standard IP-based infrastructure as a backbone in building automation to replace the inefficient, still-widespread use of siloed solutions. For this purpose, the operation of leading technology standards is to be harmonised, the fragmentation in smart building connectivity reduced and a broad acceptance of coexistent solutions promoted.
Currently, there is no automation technology available that covers all the use-cases required to fully automate a commercial building. From elevators and energy management, to lighting, water supply and air conditioning, to access control and surveillance systems: there are countless application scenarios for technologies in smart buildings.
However, some individual building systems still use a wide variety of proprietary solutions that often require separate hardware-based gateways and infrastructures. This fragmentation results in higher costs for planning, installation, maintenance, and administration of smart building projects. In addition, synergistic opportunities over the long-term remain unused.
In order to overcome these barriers, the members of IP-BLiS intend to combine light control and building management systems with IT networks by using a secure all IP-based configuration while harmonising the operation of their technical standards accordingly.
This will allow data from a wide variety of building systems to be accessible via a single IP address.
There are several advantages to this approach. Hardware-based gateways become unnecessary, as various devices across some of the most diverse systems can communicate via a single secure IP connection, and it will be much easier to seamlessly integrate IoT products into existing smart buildings.
Furthermore, an IP-based approach will significantly reduce effort and costs while increasing security, allowing smart building projects to become more scalable.
Through worldwide marketing and communication measures, IP-BLiS will enlighten the building automation market about the use of IP-based solutions, identify the security requirements that will be necessary for different regions and further influence legislation to increase adoption.
Companies wishing to support the goals of IP-BLiS can participate by becoming a member in one of the participating organisations.
BACnet International president, Andy McMillan, said the BACnet community is collaborative by nature and its members welcome the opportunity to promote fully integrated building systems through IP-BLiS.
"IP-BLiS is a powerful platform for communicating the value of IP in addressing the complexity and dynamic requirements of building information and control systems,” he said.
KNX Association International president, Franz Kammerl, said this initiative is a real game-changer for building automation that will further accelerate the growth of the market thanks to its added values in terms of integration, scalability and security.
"Collaboration and cooperation are key to allowing the IoT to reach its full potential," according to David McCall, president of the Open Connectivity Foundation.
IP-BLiS is the perfect platform for OCF and other key industry players to join forces and address the issues that face light and building automation today by removing connectivity roadblocks to create truly smart buildings,” he said. Thread Group president, Grant Erickson, said its members are excited to be a part of such a prestigious initiative.
“Our low-power wireless mesh networking protocol is based on IP because it allows for so many disparate applications to work together seamlessly," he said.
"We believe that IP-BLiS will provide a crucial standard that smart buildings need to improve interoperability and reduce costs, improving the efficiency, functionality, automation and safety of buildings such as offices, healthcare facilities, hotels and schools."
Zigbee Alliance CEO and president, Tobin Richardson, said the advent of the Internet of Things has progressively required more and more collaboration between manufacturers, ecosystems and global standards organisations to unlock the evolving potential offered by connected devices.
"Through IP-BLiS, we're looking forward to helping facilitate more efficiencies for users across commercial settings through secure, all-IP-based standards for better lighting control and building management,” Richardson said.